The Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference 2014


We had a fantastic day on the Southbank earlier in July for the Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference. With so many publicity and marketing people crammed into one (dimly-lit and wifi-free) conference room, it was an excellent chance to mingle with some very friendly, very passionate publicity and marketing professionals. It was a very long day, with so much useful and interesting information, that it would be impossible to write everything we heard. Here’s a quick summary of the day (slides from the day are available on the Bookseller website):

Nigel Roby and Alice Ryan kicked off the day welcoming us all and introducing Jessica Elvidge who is Creative Strategist for YouTube and Daniel Dalton, Staff Writer at Buzzfeed who both gave us some great tips on using content for YouTube (for example – I’m a backwards Q introvert, in case you were curious) and on social media (tip number 3 – be emotional, not rational was my favourite, using the @WstonesOxfordSt twitter account as an example of how to use twitter effectively).

Danny Asling from Wiley and Katie Sadler from Harper Collins followed with excellent examples of how trade and academic publishers are using social media and events to engage their audiences. Jo Henry from Nielsen Book Research had some fascinating things to say about Consumer Insight, followed by Claire Evans and Louise Vinter from Transworld and Penguin Random House respectively, who told us about how they’re embedding consumer insight across the organisation and how they’ve been learning about getting to know their audiences.

Nicholas Lovell, founder of GAMESbrief taught us about The Curve and the morning was rounded off with a panel of booksellers. Melissa Cox, Children’s Buyer for Waterstones, Sheila O’Reilley, Owner of Dulwich Books and Jasper Sutcliffe, Head of Buying at Foyles discussed how booksellers can act as an extension for the publicist, championing books that they feel passionate about directly to the customer.

Our afternoon kicked off with rules for writing good copy from Andy Maslen, Founder of the Andy Maslen Copywriting Academy and Dan Bond, Head of Digital Marketing at Adestra asked us if our email marketing was a world cup winner.

We had some super case studies in the afternoon, starting with Clara Nelson, Editor and Alice Broderick, Publicity Director at Vintage talking us through their campaign on a shoestring for John William’s Stoner, followed by Tania Vian Smith – Head of PR and Gemma Green, Marketing Manager at Penguin Children’s Books, showing us what magic you can create when you use bird cages and hunky young actors in city centres. Crystal Mahey-Morgan, Digital Account Manager for Random House then talked us through a superb presentation for Jamal Edward’s book and their @selfbelievers campaign, showing us how to sell books to people who claim to hate reading, thinking outside the box and repackaging content to suit the audience.

Katie Roden and Damien Horner from Fixabook explained why design is our most important marketing tool and how to make the most of our covers and driving the value (not cost!) of print content up. Following this, the very interesting Preena Gadher, Managing Director of Riot Communications talked us through her ideas book and how they use their combined creativity at Riot to come up with great campaigns.

Finally, to wrap up a fab day, the panel of Literary Editors chaired by Cathy Rentzenbrink, Associate Editor at The Bookseller gave the Publicist in the room some fantastic tips from the other side about how to best convince a literary editor to review your book. Patricia Nicol – Freelance features writer and editor, Fanny Blake – Books Editor of Women and Home and Robert Collins – Deputy Literary editor of The Sunday Times gave some really great feedback about how they’re working with Publicists at the moment and how they go about picking which books to review each month or week.

Phew! After all of that, we were all treated to some complimentary drinks to mingle and catch up with familiar and new faces. It was a great day with a lot to take away and think about. For me, the two highlights would have to be:

  • Bringing people in from outside the traditional industry (gaming, social media, agencies) is a long called for development and it was an absolutely fantastic chance to bring in creative peers from many industries to give ideas on how things can move forward in marketing and publicising content. It’s great to see that we’re finally opening our doors to people in other sectors to come and share how they see things in their areas of expertise.
  • The focus on consumer insight – we had quite a few speakers talk to us about knowing who you’re selling to and focusing on using that data to more accurately reach the most likely buyers. We now have access to enormous amounts of data about how people shop and what they buy so it was brilliant to see how this is being translated within marketing and publicity campaigns to make sure that the industry evolves and moves forward.

Full programme for the conference can be found here.

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